How to prepare your summer vegetable garden


If you haven’t already, now is the time to dig out your garden forks, shovels, and bags of soil amendments to get your garden ready for spring.

The recent wave of cool temperatures in SoCal has discouraged nurseries from planting too many seedlings for the hot season, but that will change as temperatures rise. Tomatomania is already in full swing this month, so start thinking about the veggies to add to your garden now.

In the meantime, refresh the depleted soil from last year’s harvest by adding some good, preferably organic, supplements like compost, worm manure and ox manure to your garden beds or pots. water well; and let it sit for at least a week to give the earth time to cool. The heat generated by beneficial microbes munching on all those tasty (for them) supplements can scorch tender seedlings, so make sure the soil has a chance to cool before you start planting.

One final note: The Santa Monica Mountains Fund is hosting its second virtual Southern California Monarch and Milkweed Conference on Saturday, March 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. online required.

E-mail with gardening and plant-related events at least three weeks before they take place and we can add them to the calendar.

Until May 31st
The first Butterfly Garden Contest for gardens in southwestern Riverside County, sponsored by the Santa Margarita Group of the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club. Gardens should include native California nectar plants for adult butterflies and host plants for the caterpillars (based on information from the California Native Plant Society’s Calscape database under the Butterflies tab). Gardens must be located in the communities of Canyon Lake, Hemet, Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Murrieta, Perris, Temecula, Wildomar, or Winchester and are rated in four categories ranging from extra small (25 square feet or less, including container gardens) to larger gardens than 125 square meters. Gardens are judged on their general beauty and functionality for all local butterflies; To be eligible, they must consist primarily of native plants. Entry is free. Winners will be announced June 10, with prizes ranging from $50 to $125 depending on garden size. Visit the website for registration forms and information.

11-12 March
Tomatomania! in the tree nursery Otto & Sons, 1835 E. Guiberson Road in Fillmore, daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. SoCal’s renowned rose nursery makes way for Tomatomania’s more than 200 ancient and hybrid tomato plants and around 100 varieties of peppers.

11-13 March
Tomatomania! at Fig Earth Supply, 3577 N. Figueroa St. in Mount Washington, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

March 12th
Spring Bloom Tours at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge, at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Take a guided walking tour to see what’s in bloom. Reservations are not required; Just meet at the Center Circle. Free with $15 admission to the gardens ($11 seniors 65+ and students with ID, $5 ages 5-12. Members and children under 5 enter free).

12-13 March
19. Clivia Show & Sale presented by the Southern California Chapter of the North American Clivia Society, at the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road in San Marino, both days from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Society members will offer more than 200 plants for sale along with unusual Clivia strains. Visitors can also vote for the show’s “People’s Choice” award. The show is free with $29 admission to the Huntington ($24 for seniors 65+, active military and students with ID, $13 for ages 4-11. Members and children under 4 years old get in free).

March 13th
South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society presents a free, in-person talk on New Mexico’s cacti and succulents by succulent expert Woody Minnich from 1-3 p.m. in the Peninsula Center Library Common Room, 701 Silver Spur Road in Rolling Hills Estates. Minnich grew up in the Mojave Desert and now lives in New Mexico. This is the Society’s first in-person event since the March 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns; Please check the website for last minute changes.

18-20 March
San Diego County Orchid Society Orchid Magic International Spring Show and Sale at the Scottish Rite Center, 1895 Camino Del Rio South in San Diego, March 18 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., March 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and March 20 from 10:00 a.m to 4pm on March 19th and four on March 20th on topics such as caring for a new orchid, reblooming an orchid, repotting an orchid and growing orchids outdoors. The society will also provide free printed orchid materials to take home, including care sheets for each of a dozen different species of orchids. Admission is $10 for a day or $12 for the weekend. Children under 12 have free entry.

Tomatomania! at the Tapia Bros Farm, 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave. in Encino, every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

19th March
Long Beach Plant Swap by Golden Garden at the Hangout, 2122 E. 4th St. in Long Beach from 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. At this free event, Danae Horst of Folia Collective will be autographing copies of her book, Houseplants for Everyone. If you would like to bring healthy, pest-free plants or cuttings to share or trade, register online to ensure a spot is available for you.

March 19, April 26 and April 2
Three-part bee workshop led by community scientist and photographer Krystle Hickman at the Theodore Payne Foundation Nursery, 10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley on March 19 and 26 and in a private garden in Altadena on April 2, daily from 1pm to 3pm . Hickman will discuss how to identify and photograph native bees, their relationships with native plants, and how to garden for native bees. The workshops take place both indoors and outdoors and are limited to 15 people. Participants should prepare for walking on steep, uneven surfaces and dress in layers, as classroom windows are open for ventilation. Participants must show they are fully vaccinated or have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result and wear a mask indoors. Register online, $150 ($130 for Theodore Payne Foundation members).

25-27 March
Tomatomania! at Underwood Family Farms, Moorpark Farm Center, 3370 Sunset Valley Road at Moorpark, daily from 9am to 5pm.

26th of March
Family Night Walks: Under the Looking Glass at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Participants in this guided walk will explore the tiny plants and animals that live in the garden and learn how even the tiniest living creatures can have a huge impact on our world. Buy tickets online for $20 ($15 for members. Children 12 months and under are admitted free but still need to register.) at

Night walk for adults: floriography, the language of plants at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave. in Arcadia from 7:30pm to 9:00pm This guided walk explores the historic gardens of the Arboretum and the secret importance of plants as expressed in the Victorian era’s obsession with communication through flowers, as “notoriously oppressed young Victorians in a world before Twitter relied on innuendos and insults in the form of bouquets of flowers to convey messages too unseemly for polite conversation.” Register online for $25 ($20 for members).

Spring Festival at Descanso Gardens includes tours of the pollinator garden and new nursery, as well as the native milkweed and other plants growing in the pollinator support gardens, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge. Tours are scheduled in English at 10am and 2pm and a tour in Spanish at 1pm. The event also includes information desks staffed by the garden’s partner organizations — Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Latino Outdoors, Arroyos and Foothill Conservancy , California Native Plant Society, Theodore Payne Foundation and Kidspace Children’s Museum — from 10:00 a.m. to 14:00 clock. All activities are free with $15 admission ($11 for seniors 65+ and students with ID, $5 for ages 5-12. Free for members and children under 5).

April 1st
Tomatomania! at Wachter’s Hay & Grain, 114 S. Montgomery St. in Ojai, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m

2nd of April
Tomatomania! in the coastal gardens, 3700 Via Real in Carpinteria, from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m How to prepare your summer vegetable garden

Russell Falcon

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